SOLON, Ohio (WJW) — A little boy, who fought a courageous battle against a deadly genetic disorder, is serving as the inspiration for a specially designed playground of the future.
When 4-year-old Sebastian Botirius died in April from the effects of LRBA Deficiency, his grieving parents poured their energy into a project to pay tribute to their son. Their idea, create a new playground at Solon Community Park that would enable children of all ages and abilities to enjoy the kind of play time that gave Sebastian great joy, even when he was ill.
“We’re living in a nightmare that we just won’t wake up from, and when we can find hope and a purpose in life, I think that’s what keeps us going every day so this playground has really helped us,” said his mother, Kelly Baylog.
Newly-released artist renderings show the tentative design of Sebastian’s Playground, which coincides with the development of a new master plan for all Solon city parks.
Sebastian’s father Kip Botirius told FOX 8, “hopefully they feel his spirit of fun and laughter and joy, just joy. For somebody who went through everything he went through, he was always smiling, always laughing and that to this day, is incredible to me.”
A portion of the construction of Sebastian’s playground will be paid for by a fundraising campaign started by his parents in 2022, and among the 14,000 donors supporting the project are FOX 8 viewers.
“We’ve been so blessed with the support and we were blessed to have him for four years and we want to keep that going,” said his mother.
Solon City Council is scheduled to vote on the reorganization of the parks next week, and if approved, construction of Sebastian’s Playground would begin in 2024.
Solon Mayor Edward Kraus says he had been inspired by Sebastian’s story, and the unique design of the playground.
“A place where we can accommodate the needs of every kid, no matter your disability, no matter your stage in life, we want to make sure that every kid can be accommodated,” he said.
Sebastian’s parents say that during their toughest days, they can find joy in knowing that future generations of children visiting the park will ask, “who is Sebastian?”
“Sebastian would have wanted to give back in the darkest of times and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Kip Botirius.
“We never want him to be forgotten and he never will be forgotten with us, but we would love to keep his legacy alive,” said Kelly Baylog.
The family has created a non-profit called sebastiansplaygrounds.org and they are hoping to help build similar playgrounds in other cities.